Pack's secondary finally facing an inexperienced quarterback

October, 14, 2009
10/14/09
5:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


Despite NC State’s 0-2 start in conference play, coach Tom O’Brien still believes his football team is better than it was a year ago when it began the season with the same record against ACC opponents.

“Most of the mistakes we’ve made are self-inflicted,” O’Brien said. “A year ago we had all the injuries, and different situations. Our quarterback wasn’t experienced. … Certainly we’ve made strides. The problem we’ve had from the start is not being able to get people on the ground, poor tackling. It’s repetition we continue to do at practice, but when they’re on the field, they have to get the guy down.”

There’s no question the bulk of the concerns have been on defense, particularly in what has been an injury-riddled secondary where the lineup has been routinely switched. A variety of injuries, abilities and experience have forced the staff to use five different starting secondary lineups in the first six games.

Cornerbacks DeAndre Morgan and Rashard Smith and safety Clem Johnson have all missed time due to injuries this season. Some players have started at different positions, including Koyal George at field and boundary corner, Johnson at field and boundary safety and Justin Byers at field safety and boundary corner. This week could mark the sixth new lineup in the backfield, as Smith is slated to be back.

“This is basically the way we are,” O’Brien said.

Thanks in large part to Johnson being healthy, O’Brien said NC State got what it needed from the safety position in last week’s loss to Duke, but at field corner, neither Morgan nor C.J. Wilson have seized the opportunity. In the past two weeks, Wake Forest and Duke averaged 410 passing yards and 39.5 points against the Pack.

Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said there’s no reason to think this should be a game in which the Eagles will pick apart NC State’s pass defense as easily as the Pack’s past two opponents have, especially considering their inexperience at quarterback.

“First of all, I think NC State has a very good defense,” Spaziani said. “Very good. They lost to South Carolina, 7-3, and South Carolina is 5-1. Then they ran into the Skinner/Lewis buzz saw. Riley Skinner has done that to everybody I believe. … And Thaddeus Lewis had one of the best games that I’ve seen in a long while of any quarterback anywhere. He just had a fantastic game. We are who we are, and we certainly don’t have Thaddeus Lewis and Riley Skinner.”

And that might be the best news on the Pack’s scouting report this week.

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